A semi-trailer loaded with toilet paper erupted into flames on a Queensland highway overnight as some areas experience shortages of the item due to unnecessary panic-buying.
The blaze closed the Northbound lanes on the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane from 10 p.m. until the charred remains were cleared at 2 a.m. on Thursday.
It is understood firefighters managed to save a second trailer of toilet paper on the B-double from the inferno.
Parts of the country experience shortages after customers began panic buying the item due to concerns a coronavirus outbreak will lead to forced isolation.
Major retailer Woolworths restricted sales to no more than four packs of the product per person on Wednesday in the wake of customers being filmed fighting over the product.
Coles said it was talking to suppliers, government stakeholders, and transport partners to determine how best to improve availability on popular products such as long-life pantry staples and healthcare items.
“We have increased deliveries from our distribution centres and our teams are working hard to fill the shelves as quickly as possible,” a Coles spokeswoman told AAP in a statement.
“While there may be some temporary stock shortages, the vast majority of products in our stores and via Coles online remain available for customers.”
Costco managing director Patrick Noone says there has been an influx of customers across all warehouses this week, with transaction limits placed on toilet paper, milk, eggs, rice and soap products.
“We are reviewing and changing this regularly as needed,” Noone said in a statement on Wednesday.
Toilet paper producers have allayed fears of shortages saying they are ramping up production and authorities have urged the public to stop stockpiling toilet paper.
Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures toilet paper, is opening up its manufacturing lines in South Australia to deal with the increased demand.
“Australia, don’t panic! We are working around the clock at our mill in South Australia to keep the supermarket shelves stocked … As you can see we won’t be running out anytime soon,” the company said on Facebook alongside a photograph of toilet paper in its warehouse.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has labelled public reaction to the virus “quite ridiculous” because the quarantine period for those who contract the virus is only 14-days.
Almost 50 people have now tested positive for coronavirus across the country.